Eco-house beyond reach?

Yomiuri is examining the cost and energy-saving effect of eco-houses by looking into a few examples built by "ordinary" people. Hikaru Kobayashi, one of the people Yomiuri highlights works at Japan's Environment Ministry, and he was able to get additional funding from a government subsidy. He has published a book titled "Eco-house in my perspective". In a further move to reduce CO2 emissions, he is proceeding with a rooftop gardening plan.

The Kobayashi household was able to reduce CO2 emissions with 49 percent compared to 1999 (I wish his book was translated to other languages).

Today, in Japan, you can get solar panels at about the same cost as a car:

The price of solar-powered electricity generators went down sharply in the past decade. The price, which stood at an average 2 million yen in fiscal 1994 when the government subsidy system was inaugurated, dropped to 660,000 yen in fiscal 2005, according to the New Energy Foundation.

But it costs a family at least 1.8 million yen to install solar-powered electricity generators. As a result, the generator is still a luxury beyond the reach of most people.

Yomiuri: Eco-home is where heart is / Such houses cut energy consumption, but out of reach for many


Pandabonium said…
I am planning an off-grid house that will run entirely on renewable energy with solar hot water and PV electric panels. The way to keep the cost of the PV panels down is to use less electricity - a lot less. We are used to wasting huge amounts of energy because it used to be cheap and we were ignorant fo the environmental consequences. Just because we switch to a different power source, doesn't mean we shouldn't look at reducing waste. Quite the opposite.

I will have a refrigerator for example that uses only .1 watt hours per day (actually a converted chest type freezer). Lighting will come from LEDs running on a low voltage line.

Many of today's electrical items use far too much power because the 100 volt or so system they are plugged into was there before they were invented. when you can design a new home from scratch, or entirely rework an older home, you can design out the old way of doing things. Another example would be having a low voltage system to serve the led lights and small items such as computers which does away with the need for transformers on each of the items.

As a result, my house will need only a few panels and the cost will be a 10th of what one might expect. If people would adopt that kind of thinking rather than simply trying switch to solar while doing things the same old wasteful way, it would make the change much more affordable, even considering rewiring.

Reducing the size of energy systems also has another benefit - it lowers the use of resources that they are made of and the CO2 that is released in the mining, manufacturing, and shipping of those products.
Martin J Frid said…
Good plan! Yes, it is silly to try to keep consumption at the same level as when energy was cheap. Interesting perspective that needs to be looked into more!

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